Are You Herding Cats or Getting Heard? How to Lead a Team of Creative Minds

Posted on June 8, 2013 by Caitlin C

This Cat Refuses to Be Herded, Your Writers Might Feel the Same WayWorking at a creative marketing agency can be a lot of fun, but leading a group of editors and marketers can sometimes feel like an impossible task. When you’ve got a crew of out-of-the-box editors, a strict editorial calendar, and a rotating stable of blog writers for hire, how can you manage all the moving parts to maximize innovation and productivity?

Build Group Identity

One of the trickiest aspects of managing a solid team is building a strong foundation of trust and group identity, but this step is essential for creative workplaces where collaboration is king. Be sure to lead your team through Bruce Tuckman’s stages of group development: form, storm, norm, and finally, perform. Essentially, Tuckman’s theory normalizes the conflicts that occur when new teams are formed in the workplace and even considers it a vital part of establishing trust and order in an organization. Once your team gets past their creative and professional differences, they’ll be better able to get to the real work of managing writers, coming up with quality ideas, and executing plans in a timely fashion.

Play to Their Strengths

It’s not uncommon for an editorial team to be made up of creative folks who excel in other areas unrelated to marketing. Take time to figure out your team’s creative strengths, and leverage their talents to push them to bring more of their personal passion and skill into their work. If you have any trouble detecting the creative writers in your midst, The Rumpus has posted a handy guide for identifying and handling these exotic species.

Innovate, but Remember Tradition

While it’s tempting to think of content marketing agencies as a totally new breed of work, we can actually learn a lot about how to structure and manage a marketing team from the traditional structures of print journalism. Though it seems a little counter-intuitive to take advice from a less than robust industry, there are tried-and-true structures in place in many newsroom that can benefit agency leaders tasked with wrangling editors, clients, and content writers.

Think about the traditional publishing workflow and consider your own organizational structures. This is not to say that your office needs a cigar-chomping head honcho barking orders from a corner office, but think critically and ask yourself the following: Is everyone on your team clear on who they report to? Are there clear channels for communication of ideas, conflicts, and completed assignments? Lack of structure can contribute to discord, resentment, and ultimately, a lack of productivity, so take the time to make sure your team is well organized and secure in the structure of your workplace, no matter how non-traditional that structure may be.

Caitlin C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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